He earned a measly Sh70 a day as a herdsboy in the village, and spent it all on his frail and ailing grandmother. That, however, did not hold him back from breaking the glass ceiling and emerging best student in KCPE in Western Province in the year 2000. For that, he gained admission to the prestigious Starehe Boys Centre.
Meet 32-year-old Saboti member of Parliament Caleb Amisi, who says he is very passionate about empowering the youth and helping the needy in society. The lawmaker runs the Caleb Amisi Foundation, a non-profit organisation whose activities and projects seek to improve the lives of young people. The foundation has so far paid school fees for more than 700 bright but needy students from the North Rift region of Kenya, and is funded by well-wishers.
“I am very passionate about this initiative. I was once a needy student, and if someone hadn’t offered to alleviate my financial burden, perhaps I would have remained a herdsboy, or ended up as a house boy,” says Caleb.
In Parliament, after he got his feet properly under the table, Caleb proposed that the Social Assistance Act 2012, which seeks to give unemployed youth a monetary allowance of Sh12,000 every four months as they continue to search for jobs or alternative sources of income, be amended.
“Apart from subjecting them to poverty, unemployment leaves the youth susceptible to ills like drug abuse, criminal gangs and organised militia groups, while others commit suicide due to depression. Girls and women suffer even more, as they become susceptible to early pregnancy and marriages, and prostitution. If the law is amended, such dangers against our youth can be avoided,” says the legislator.
Caleb has also co-sponsored a motion seeking to establish sports academies and talent development centres in every constituency, and another on the establishment of apprenticeship institutions that are fully funded by government.
The MP is however quick to point out that implementation of projects, even those that have already been passed, is not easy, which is why some youthful legislators are usually seen to be incompetent.
“Youth leaders in Parliament are quite energetic, and are full of ideas, but the process of implementation is sometimes slow. There are several procedures that have to be adhered to,” he says.
Caleb believes that a leaders should serve regardless of how much they earn it. “Our freedom fighters were not on any salary when they fought for our independence. The political and economic liberators of yesteryears were never motivated by salaries or by rewards, but by their inherent urge for change. This should be the guiding principle of any leader if we intend to make a difference in our society,” Caleb said.
On August 16, the MP was conferred with an honorary Fellows Award by the African Youth and Governance Convergence in Ghana.
The AYGC acknowledged his contribution to the inclusion, development and expansion of space for the youth in Kenya, and across the continent.
He shared the stage with Seth Oteng (Executive Director of Youth Bridge Foundation), Samwel Okudzeto Oblakwa (MP Ghana) former Nigerian President Olesegun Obasanjo, and Stanley Kakubo who is the youngest MP in Zambia.
However, Caleb’s journey has not been without difficulties. His father died two months before he was born, and her mother abandoned him soon after and left him with his poor 78-year-old grandmother. To pay his primary school fees, he sought menial jobs and received donations from well-wishers.
To any young person aspiring to be an MP, Caleb says: “The Asians say ‘su su na’, which means keep fighting to the last breath.”